Adkins: A Change in Atmosphere

Last week, the media focused on the change at quarterback, but Eric Mangini was trying to change a lot more. Lane Adkins has the inside word on a "metamorphosis" in Berea. How did the head coach change his approach?

Who was that man wearing the Eric Mangini mask on the Browns sideline on Sunday?

Whoever it was, he was somewhat animated. Encouraging of his players. He could be seen to occasionally crack a sly smile, while dropping an expletive here and there.

Turns out that the person you saw on TV was the actual Eric Mangini, but one who was consciously showing a side quite different than the stoic presence seen heretofore.

The metamorphosis started to take place well before game day, according to sources inside and outside the locker room who discussed the team's week  with the OBR.

During the week following the embarrassing 34-3 loss to Baltimore, Mangini was hardly standoffish, giving players the impression that he was in this with the players and coaches, rather than simply being the head of a rudderless ship.

Mangini set a different tone for the team as they prepared for the Bengals. Sensing the game was not fun for those in the locker room and his staff, Mangini was as intense as he ever was during the week leading up to the game - but the pressure was not placed on the players.

When talking with the team leading up to the game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Mangini often stated 'we' need to do a better job. However, the 'we' was the coaching staff, and the head coach's intent was to take some of the pressure off of the team's roster.

And there was no shortage of pressure. It mounted with each loss and buzz had already started in the usual circles that the team's players were on the verge of quitting on the head coach. The team seen against Baltimore was a team that wasn't having fun, playing under intense pressure.

Changing gears went well beyond Mangini's demeanor and message.

Just a week prior, Mangini acknowledged the need to change when benching starting quarterback Brady Quinn. While those outside the organization talked about Mangini's "desperation" tactic, inside the locker room, the move was largely viewed as a necessary step taken with the intention to help the team win.

Feeling the team was not playing with confidence, Mangini sought stability, which led to a week of practice and preparation giving all involved a new perspective.

Play the game like you know how, play for each other and have fun.

Despite the public outcry for Mangini to be fired, players responded to the head coach like they had throughout the season, but the atmosphere was just "different", according to our sources.

Leading up to the game, Mangini spoke inspirationally to the team, and hardly seemed a dictator who cared little about the men making up this organization.

Prior to the game, Mangini addressed the team and spoke again about playing the game and being proud, not only as men, but as being part of what the Cleveland Browns will become.

The players responded. This week, the players showed they weren't quitting on their head coach.

And in turn, Eric Mangini put his best foot forward and communicated his humanity to his team.

Never could a loss be as positive as it was on Sunday.

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